Inside the Explosive Meeting That Boiled Over Into the NYT Strike

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

This reporting is one of several scoops featured in this week’s edition of Confider, the newsletter pulling back the curtain on the media. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.

The fallout from last week’s walkout at The New York Times continues with staffers telling Confider they believe management will dig in when both sides return to the bargaining table Tuesday, leading to a strike authorization vote and further industrial action.

The signs for last week’s dramatic culmination were apparent over the last few months, according to notes of an explosive meeting obtained and reviewed by Confider.

During an October bargaining session, deputy managing editor Cliff Levy arrived before the Times’ company lawyers from Proskauer and lavished praise on reporter and bargaining committee member Frances Robles for her coverage of Hurricane Ian, an apparent attempt at forging coziness, a person familiar with the matter told Confider.

While Robles was congenial in thanking him, she pulled no punches in expressing her frustration to Levy during a Nov. 15 bargaining.

“Every single time communication goes out to the staff, there is info that is demonstrably untrue,” Robles said, according to the notes of the meeting. “Cliff, what the [Times] has done to your reputation breaks my heart. And it should break your heart. I feel really bad that these negotiations have turned a man who built his career on trust into a liar.”

Robles declined to comment on the incident. “What happens at the bargaining table stays at the bargaining table,” she said in a text message.

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Now Confider has learned that Levy, who was in close competition with Joe Kahn for the executive editor gig, is set to be handed a top job at the Times as deputy publisher of The Athletic and Wirecutter.

The move, which is dependent on the pace of the labor talks, would see Levy become David Perpich’s deputy.

Insiders say the decision to move him out of the newsroom is in part recognition from publisher A.G. Sulzberger of Levy’s work dealing with the tense and drawn-out negotiations.

“Cliff is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and one of our most distinguished journalists,” a Times spokesperson emailed Confider. “He is a former NewsGuild member, he has deep integrity, and the trust of both the company's leadership and his newsroom colleagues.”

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